Profoto continues to refine and surprise us with an enhanced version of the B1 battery-powered monolight, the B1X. The B1X 500 AirTTL 2-Light Location Kit includes two B1X flash heads with 80% brighter LED modeling lights and batteries with 50% greater capacity (325 full power flashes) and High-Speed Sync that’s able to use the full 9-stop power range. Also included are an AC battery charger, a car charger, and a Backpack M to store and transport it all. All of the familiar professional and convenience features we’ve come to expect from Profoto are onboard. The B1X has the same dense, durable polymer housing, integrated 77-degree reflector, built-in receiver compatible with Air Remote TTL remotes, and intuitive highly visible controls and display.
AirTTL remotes are made for Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Olympus cameras. Busy photographers can literally set up their lights, slip the optional Air Remote TTL-C, TTL-N, TTL-S, or TTL-O remote onto their camera’s hot shoe and point-and-shoot without taking a reading and testing. Composition, posing, etc. is of course up to the photographer, but time after time, the B1X will give you a first shot exposure that’s a keeper.
The (separately purchased) remote is the key to this convenience and control. Operating on 2.4 GHz band width, the remote, really a controller, has 8 frequency channels and with 3 groups per channel and a range of up to 330′ for TTL triggering and 1000′ for normal non-TTL triggering. Each channel has power ratio capability of +/- 2 stops. If you prefer to use manual you have +/- 9 stops power variation. You’ve also got modeling light, unit shut-down and first or rear curtain control. The AirTTL remotes have mini-USB connectors for firmware updates directly from Profoto’s website. The B1X’s core performance features are equally impressive. The flash recycles in 0.1 to 1.9 seconds but can deliver up to 20 flashes per second in Quick Burst Mode which engages at lower power settings. Flash duration in Normal Mode is a very fast 1/1000 sec, but there’s also a Freeze Mode that delivers flash durations as short as 1/19,000 sec for capturing liquid sprays or splashes and other creative effects.
The B1X is also capable of High Speed Sync. HSS is the technical term for syncing flash with shutter speeds shorter than the so-called x-sync, typically 1/250 of a second. It’s a useful tool for controlling ambient light and for freezing action. Profoto uses a patent-pending technology that emits an extremely fast series of flash pulses. A simple button-press activates HSS Mode allowing you to shoot at shutter speeds as fast as 1/8000 of a second. The B1X 500 AirTTL employs an improved, high-capacity, exchangeable lithium-ion battery that gets up to 325 flashes on a 1.5-hour charge with the included 4.5A quick charger. The battery has fuel gauge-type LEDs that make monitoring remaining power easy. The B1X’s modeling light is LED to put less strain on the battery. It provides the equivalent output of a 130W halogen bulb and will run for 120 minutes on a full charge.
Finally, B1X’s back panel features a large, bright LCD screen that informs the user of the flash’s power level, radio channel and group, sync choice, modeling light mode, and recycle alert. There’s also a large battery gauge that literally can be read from 20′ away.
The B1X 500 TTL comes with a protective cap, 4.5A charger, car charger, and a well-constructed backpack.